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This years NBA Final is giving fans not only incredibly entertaining play on the court, but countless underlying stories that have kept everyone talking, even on the off days.
Everybody knows that superstars run the NBA, and because of that, commissioner David Stern must have had a grin as wide as the Grand Canyon when the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks reached the finals.
I want to start by saying that Dwyane Wade deserves every bit as much recognition as LeBron James for bringing Miami this far. I most definitely do not wish to ignore his accomplishments because he has a solid argument to be just as talented as any other player in the world. The thing about Wade is that he has already been to the promised land. He has hardware on his side, and that can never be taken away from him no matter how many times he may lose from here on in.
Now that I’ve said that, we can move on to who we all know who the big story really revolves around here.
LeBron James has been criticized more than any other player in the league for not having a championship ring on his finger at this point in his career. He has upped his game to the point where he is unquestionably the best player in the NBA, and probably the world. At this point, the only thing he has to worry about, is his legacy moving forward. If LeBron really wants to go down as one of the absolute best, he’s going to need the hardware.
Dirk Nowitzki is at this moment considered by many to be the greatest international player ever to grace the NBA, not to mention the best shooting big man of all time. He has brought a style of play that nobody has ever seen in the history of this game, and as of late has proved to be impossible to guard at virtually any spot on the court. Unfortunately he, like LeBron, is missing the same thing that they have been chasing their entire careers.
These two probably could not be more different people if they tried, aside from the arc of their careers to this point. Although Dirk has been around the block a few more times than LeBron, they find themselves at a similar point in the eyes of the rest of the world. Both men have been to the finals one time, been unimpressive to say the least, and gone home with disappointment rather than future hall of fame votes. This is their second chance.
The term “on fire” does not even begin to describe the way each of them have been playing to this point in the playoffs, not to mention the impressive performances that have kept fans on the edge of their seats thus far in the finals.
Even their stats are similar. To this point Dirk has 28.1 points per game in the playoffs to LeBron’s 25.5 (but when we factor in how much more help LeBron has on the floor, the numbers seem to even themselves out). Rebounds? Dirk has 7.8 per game to LeBron’s 8.8. Even their shooting has been incredible with both men raining down countless outside shots and going on uncanny made free-throw streaks to lead their teams to victory.
This will surely prove to be a battle between these stars, and nothing should be taken away from either of them no matter the outcome of the series. Unfortunately the key word there is should, and the fans, or the media for that matter, doesn’t exactly abide by the same rules of respect that I do.
Nobody knows what will happen in the remaining games in the finals. In 2006 most everybody believed that Dirk and the Mavericks had the series wrapped up halfway through game 3, but some teams lay eggs and we just can’t see it coming. One thing is for absolute certain, the remaining games in the coming days just may decide a lot about how these two players are remembered.
Should Dallas lose, Dirk’s chance at a ring may be gone for good. He will be remembered as a great scorer and shooter who just could never get over the hump. In the spectrum of all-time players, he will be considered really good, but not great, somewhere many players would appreciate being, but somewhere a true champion never wants to end up.
Should Dallas win, in my opinion, Nowitzki will be knocking on the door of the hall of fame. A complete career, an MVP award, a ring, and the honor of being not only the best player ever from Germany, but probably ever as an international player in the NBA. Not matter what would happen after this year, he would go out the way he wanted to.
On the other hand, if the Heat were to lose, the media would have a field day. Worse than the Brett Favre retirement fiasco, worse than Tiger Woods’ scandal, we would hear about LeBron’s uncanny ability to lose the big game for an entire year before the next season started again.
That would make two times that it seemed “King James” would finally reach the promised land and come up short. His career is already complete aside from the championships, and since everybody knows he wants to the the absolute best, the rings are what he needs.
He is still incredibly young and has plenty more time, but this one would have a real toll on him and maybe the rest of his career. He is focused and ready now, and everyone is sensing that this is the time, no more excuses.
If they win, all the talk goes away. He would have it all. The rings, the MVP’s, the scoring titles, everything. He would already be considered one of the greatest, no matter how hated he may be around the country. The only thing left to do would be to build a trophy room and wait for more championships to roll in after having the confidence of the first. Comparisons to the great one’s would be everywhere. His dream would be achieved.
I for one, can not wait to see what happens. These last few games of the season is going to have an incredibly impact on how people view these two outstanding basketball players. Most people don’t realize it quite yet, but LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki really are playing with their legacies on the line.